When most people think about bed bugs, they think about infestations in hotels or at home. However, schools are also at risk of bed bug infestations! While bed bug infestations are fairly uncommon, the environment is ripe for these pests. For example, bed bugs are attracted to the smell of humans and carbon dioxide. Interestingly, a recent study by entomologists at the University of Sheffield, published in Scientific Reports, noted that bed bugs aren’t attracted to humans, but the smell and degree of carbon dioxide exhaled.
So, because schools are filled with students and teachers, naturally a lot of carbon dioxide is exhaled. Additionally, students also bring in bags, coats and supplies that inadvertently add to the breeding ground for bed bugs in the classroom. As a result, students with bed bugs is a relatively minor, but significant risk for parents.
Although the school might not see an infestation develop, these bugs latch onto clothing and can be transferred to someone else’s personal items and home. What should schools be aware of to prevent this from happening?
Signs of Bed Bugs in Schools
While schools, and in particular elementary schools, have resources to help identify lice infestations, they typically lack the training to stop a bed bug infestation in the classroom? For example, schools are at risk when a student lives in a home with an infestation. As bed bugs easily cling to items, such as dirty cloths or bags, there is real potential to bring these critters into a school building. Staff should look out for a physical reaction such as visible bites, along with any student that is unusually uncomfortable or extremely anxious. As an added benefit, even if the student doesn’t have bed bugs, these signs typically indicate a potential issue that the student will appreciate an adult taking the time to ask how they are doing.
Signs of Students with Bed Bugs
Teachers are asked a lot, so while adding bed bug warnings to the list likely isn’t top of mind, any staff member can spot. First and foremost, look out for visible bite marks or actual bed bugs within their personal items. If any students are found with bed bugs, then follow these steps:
- Don’t send the student home; instead, have the student leave the classroom to be inspected by a nurse.
- Notify other teachers about this issue.
- Provide the student with educational materials about dealing with bedbugs and notify his or her parents about the issue.
- If the pests were found within the student’s things, provide a set of plastic bags for storing his or her belongings while at school and temporarily keep them in a separate area.
- Find time to inspect the student’s belongings and locker.
- Avoid having your students leave piles of shoes or coats in the classroom.
Sigs of Bed Bugs in the Classroom
If a student (or teacher) has bed bugs that enter the school, they will most likely cause an infestation within a classroom before infiltrating the entire building. To avoid a large scale bed bug infestation, then staff members should be mindful that bed bugs generally bred in warmer months. In the Northeast, that means watching for bites or general discomfort in students. However, if bed bugs enter the classroom, then the following steps will help reduce the infestation.
- Contact professional bed bug exterminators immediately.
- Capture the bugs for identification.
- Clean all hard surfaces with soapy water.
- Avoid clutter in the classroom and lost and found areas.
- Clean any upholstered furniture and anything wall mounted.
- Store as many supplies as possible inside plastic containers.
If your school is dealing with a bed bug infestation, then don’t hesitate try to get rid of the problem on your own. Instead, make an appointment with Eliminate ‘Em and we’ll be there that same day to assess the situation and provide a solution.